Saanich council plans to eliminate the need for residents to provide their home addresses when speaking to council or at public hearings.
Staff were asked this week to draft a bylaw amendment so residents no longer have to give more than their names before speaking.
Coun. Susan Brice, chair of the governance and finance committee, said some have been unwilling to speak up at council meetings and public hearings because of the need to publicly reveal their home addresses.
Brice said staff might still ask for the information, but it would no longer be required ahead of any remarks.
“We felt we wanted to give people a sense of comfort that they could come and speak to their council and not be fingered by anybody who had a strongly differing opinion,” said Brice.
Coun. Karen Harper said people shouldn’t be asked to provide information “that could require them to potentially violate their actual safety,” adding: “I think it will make it more comfortable for more people to provide us with input, which is really what we want, the maximum amount of input.”
Coun. Teale Phelps Bondaroff called the decision an important step. “We want to encourage public participation. We don’t want people to be afraid to share their views with us here in council, so we know what’s going on in our community,” he said. “And the requirement to share your full residential address has a stifling effect on people’s participation.”
Coun. Colin Plant said he supports the motion, but believes residents should be required to at least identify in which municipality they live.
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